Machine learning model management is one of the cornerstones of modern data science initiatives. But what is it, why is it important, and what can it do for you?
Ever wonder why you spent so much time learning about WW2 in history class? It was because of the lesson plan, the tool in any teacher’s arsenal that ensures you’re learning what you need to know. Anytime you’ve ever learned something in a professional environment, it’s a safe bet there was a lesson plan involved.
So why should machines be any different? Everyone wants their technology to be continuously learning and improving. But to do this they need to ensure the data science services they have are up to scratch, because machine learning is only as good as the data fed into it.
What’s more, the amount of data these systems can handle is dependent on the ‘lesson plan’ put in place at their inception. Another name for this lesson plan is machine learning model management.
ML model management – an overview
Machine learning model management is essentially the education process for your technology – with the promise of real-world experience at the end. It’s responsible for developing, training, versioning, and deploying your machine learning models. For the purposes of our article – developing, training, and deploying all align to our education metaphor – if we imagine deployment as the beginning of your tech’s real-world experience. But what exactly does versioning refer to?
Imagine versioning as the different drafts or improvements you made when writing your college thesis. Some documents in life are too important to rely on a first draft, and the same is true for machine learning. As the code develops overtime, developers work off better versions of their product (version 1, version 2, version 3 etc.) before releasing it onto the market.
That, in essence, is what machine learning model management is – a process for your technology that includes a review stage and real-world experience.
Why is model management important?
Putting your technology through a learning process might sound silly, but in a world where clients and employees alike are clamoring for more human-like experiences when interacting with your technology, it’s more important than ever. Let’s look at the benefits of this idea in practice.
During the pandemic, salespeople couldn’t physically meet clients due to government restrictions which presented them with a major challenge. In a field where reading emotions, language, and body movements accurately is paramount, how were salespeople to function in a world where sharing physical spaces was prohibited. This is where machine learning model management and large language models came into play.
By leveraging this technology to identify minuscule changes in facial expressions and tone of voice, salespeople now had access to the same tools they had in the pre-covid years. This of course ensured major companies could still function despite the unique challenges of the time and enabled economies all over the world to keep moving.
This is just one reason why machine learning is important, but there are others. For example, with machine learning we get smarter chatbots, thanks to LangChain technology, that can answer our queries in a human-like fashion without the need to look for the number of a call center. Machine learning model management components
So how can you make machine learning model management work for you? First, let’s talk about the different parts that make machine learning what it is today, beginning with the machine learning model. In short, this is a file that developers have trained to recognize certain patterns.
Our brain can recognize certain patterns very quickly and easily so the idea is to get this file to function in a similar way – especially if you have repeatable tasks that you want to automate or have an example of some task or process where you can clearly map out the result you want for your company.
However, there are five key components you need to consider if you want your machine learning model to function correctly. They are:
- Data versioning: a set of tools and processes that adapts your newest version of control processes to the new data you’re working with by managing any changes in relation to your own datasets and vice-versa – remember a university thesis never work as a first draft
- Code versioning/notebook checkpointing: like data versioning outlined in the previous point, only these tools and processes handle changes in your code
- Experiment tracking: used for collecting, organizing and tracking how your machine learning model interprets and validates information, as well as how it performs over multiple runs when handling different configurations and datasets
- Registry system: basically, your administration cabinet that contains everything you need to know about what models are in training, where they are in their training, how many models are in the pipeline, and how many have been deployed etc.
- Model monitoring: used to track model performance and identify any signs of degradation, which is often caused by data changes made to the model after deployment.
How to implement machine learning model management
Now, there’s just one more question left to answer – how can you add machine model management to your IT toolkit? There are four different stages to any machine learning model implementation – Level 0, Level 1, Level 2, and Level 3:
- Level 0: This is your research stage – establishing if your lesson plan is worth investing in. It’s fantastic for machine learning newbies to start learning the ropes, while also good for experts to see if an idea is worth pursuing. However, the downside is that this stage has no way of tracking your versions or logging which ideas work for your team and which don’t. In short, if you want more structure and accountability while being able to reproduce the results of your experiments, you need to progress to the other levels in the machine learning implementation process
- Level 1: This is the beginning of your lesson plan – the first draft where you begin to put your ideas to the test. It’s generally favored by well-structured teams doing rapid prototyping. At this level your developers will have access to all the benefits of level 0, along with data and model versioning, which makes experiments reproducible – at least partially. But this stage still lacks accountability through fully reproducible experiments, notebook checkpointing, and avenues for continuous improvement – which is essential if you want your technology to keep learning and growing
- Level 2: Here, the first draft of your lesson plan is on paper, so you can begin to review it in earnest, move things around and sharpen key areas, while pulling out any avenues you might consider to be dead ends. This stage is favored by teams who want to test their hypothesis quickly, while getting their ideas into a production environment at speed. It has all the advantages of levels 0 and 1 and includes notebook checkpointing, which allows you to make changes to code as needed. It’s also very production driven, as any experiments are fully reproducible. It only lacks one thing – a continuous improvement pipeline that enables you to start giving your tech that human touch. For that you need to move onto the final level of machine learning implementation
- Level 3: At this level you’re a master at writing lesson plans. So good, you could do it in your sleep – which you can – as everything is automated in the machine learning pipeline at this level of development. It has all the advantages of the previous levels and even includes a continuous improvement pipeline. However, it’s important to note that even this level has its challenges as it lacks a way to continuously train your machine learning model once it goes out into the world. Thankfully, this can be solved by several machine learning monitoring tools on the market such as Sagemaker and Azure Machine Learning.
Human-like interactions are within your grasp
If you want your technology to offer human-like interactions to your employees, clients and partners, then you need to take machine learning model management seriously.
Here at Software Mind, we’re aware that teaching can be difficult, which is why our experts are always available to provide more information about what machine learning can do for you.
About the authorSoftware Mind
Software Mind provides companies with autonomous development teams who manage software life cycles from ideation to release and beyond. For over 20 years we’ve been enriching organizations with the talent they need to boost scalability, drive dynamic growth and bring disruptive ideas to life. Our top-notch engineering teams combine ownership with leading technologies, including cloud, AI, data science and embedded software to accelerate digital transformations and boost software delivery. A culture that embraces openness, craves more and acts with respect enables our bold and passionate people to create evolutive solutions that support scale-ups, unicorns and enterprise-level companies around the world.